Cantwell: For Years Hanford Workers Have Suffered; It's Past Time They Get the Health Treatment They Were Promised

Calls for More Funding for Nuclear Workers Health Screening

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell sent a letter calling for increased funding to monitor the health of current and former Department of Energy employees, including those at Hanford.  The letter requests an increase from $18.6 million to $25 million in annual funding to the Former Worker Medical Screening program. 


“For far too long, Hanford workers have suffered from work-related illnesses and bureaucratic red tape preventing them from receiving the health treatment they were promised,” Senator Cantwell said. “It is absolutely crucial we fully fund this important program, so that every single Department of Energy nuclear weapons worker has the option to access free health screenings for work-related illnesses. Early detection of illnesses can save lives.” 


During the program, only two-thirds of the eligible workers have been contacted for health screenings.  Of the 360,000 contacted, 107,000 have responded and expressed interest, yet only 60,000 have had an initial screening.  Those screenings have identified over 6,500 cases – more than one in ten of those screened – of Asbestos-related lung disease and many other work-related health conditions.  So far, 6,800 Hanford workers have been screened. 


This program was established by the 1993 Defense Authorization Act to provide free of charge screening for radioactive substance exposure to all Department of Energy workers.